Linus Torvalds hired by Open Source Development Lab

Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux operating system, is joining the Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) as its first-ever OSDL Fellow.

In an announcement today, the US laboratory said that Torvalds will "work exclusively on leading the development of Linux," which he created in 1991 as a university student in Finland.

Torvalds will work full-time to guide thousands of Linux developers around the world in his new job. Torvalds will leave his job at microprocessor vendor Transmeta, where he has been a Transmeta Fellow.

"It feels a bit strange to finally officially work on what I've been doing for the last twelve years, but with the upcoming (Linux kernel) 2.6.x release it makes sense to be able to concentrate fully on Linux," Torvalds said in a statement. "OSDL is the perfect setting for vendor-independent and neutral Linux development."

He posted a notice online about his decision as well, calling his new job "big news."

At the lab, Torvalds will have hands-on access to the center's computing resources and test facility and will help set priorities and direction for the lab's different industry initiatives.

Stuart Cohen, CEO of the OSDL, said today that Torvalds' arrival is a huge coup for the group. As the OSDL's first fellow, Torvalds will be the group's highest-ranking research-and-development employee. "We're expecting a long and fruitful relationship," Cohen said.

Torvalds will be responsible for working on the Linux kernel and applications under a contract he has signed with the OSDL, he said. "He's just going to make this official and come to work for us."

The move comes at a time when the lab is seeking to make itself the "center of gravity" for Linux users, developers and vendors, Cohen said. "Linus's decision to accept our invitation to join us is a confirmation of the importance of our mission."

Asked about the ongoing legal battle between The SCO Group and IBM over SCO's claims that some of its protected Unix code illegally made its way into Linux, Cohen said he has "very little concern about it.

"The legal system is about money, and it's about business, and the courts will decide. If money changes hands, then money changes hands. The momentum for Linux ... is very strong," he said.

"If there is source code that for one reason or another needs to be modified or changed or deleted (because it's found to infringe on SCO's alleged rights), then that code will get changed and Linux will go on in a dramatic fashion," Cohen said. "This thing will get resolved. It will get behind us."

Cohen said that although some customers may be looking at their options right now, "long-term or on the one-year horizon, I do not see any shift in Linux (use)."

Al Gillen, an analyst at IDC, said that Torvalds' decision is a good move for the group and for Linux. "It certainly gives the OSDL a lot more credibility," he said. "I think that's an indication that Linus wants to focus on the Linux operating system. It looks like a full-time job for him."

George Weiss, an analyst at Gartner, said in a statement that "the computing market is still questioning how far and how fast Linux can go as an enterprise-ready platform. With Linus at OSDL, many will be looking for leadership from the lab for answers to those questions."

The OSDL, which was founded in 2000, is a nonprofit, global consortium of technology companies that's working to accelerate the adoption of Linux in the enterprise. OSDL members include IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Intel.

Two major industry projects being pursued by the OSDL are Data Center Linux and Carrier Grade Linux for telecommunications networks.

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Todd R. Weiss

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